Einstein's Beach House
“Einstein’s Beach House”
“Einstein’s Beach House” is the title story from Jacob Appel’s new story collection (Pressgang/Butler University, 2014). Appel’s collection won the first Pressgang Prize sponsored by Butler University. His short fiction has appeared in many journals, including Agni, Alaska Quarterly Review, and StoryQuarterly. His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001) and Best American Short Stories (2007 and 2008).
Appel said this about the origin of his story. I’ve always been fascinating by swindlers and con artists, possibly because I’d make a very poor one myself. Some people have a knack for pushing life’s envelope and getting away with it–and these folks have always left me both resentful and envious, because I possess no crafty instincts or entrepreneurial spirit and could easily lose money selling ice in the desert.
Needless to say, fiction is an opportunity for me to give these charlatans and mountebanks their comeuppances. Bryce Scragg fits the mold: a man too smart and too ambitious for his own good (and the good of his family.) I already had the concept of Bryce’s character and fate in my mind, when I read a news item about a travel guidebook that had misprinted the address of Freud’s home in Vienna, leading to the inundation of an innocent elderly couple by American tourists.
Replacing Austria with New Jersey, I gave Bryce just enough rope to hang himself…and he all too readily climbed the gallows.